Neuron Culture

For research she’s doing about public attitudes on genetics and mental health, science writer Virginia Hughes is trying to get people to take a very short survey (I just took it; takes about 30 seconds) on that subject. Do mental health issues rise from genes, environment, or both? Would you get a child tested for a gene said to confer a certain level of risk for, say, autism? Questions like that. She’ll use the results to inform her writing and her participation in a panel on ethical questions about the genomics of psych conditions at an upcoming conference at Cold Spring Harbor.

It’s quick, interesting, and will make your voice heard, in a tiny way, at Cold Spring Harbor. So help out Hughes and science and go take the survey! Tell her I sent you.

Survey results will be posted here next week, after the conference. You can also keep track at Ginny’s website.


  1. #1 Anonymous
    September 11, 2009

    How is this a *survey* question? It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s matter of research and eventually, fact.

    Genetics informs a small part of the causative factors of mental disorders, for the vast majority of them. What people think is beyond the point. That’s like asking, “Do you believe in Newton’s Law of Gravity?”

  2. #2 David Dobbs
    September 12, 2009

    Anonymous: Of course facts matter, and (gene-environment-behavior loops notwithstanding) opinions won’t change how genes and environment work interact (or not) to change behavior or mental health. But opinions and understanding about such things DO matter. (Opinions about evolution don’t affect its course. But they sure as hell matter. And it matters, I think, whether people believe in gravity. Doesn’t affect gravity. But it speaks to what sort of people we are.) That’s what Ms. Sharpe wants to talk and write about. Thus her survey.

    I thought that all obvious but I guess not.

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